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The board

2023 UK Spencer Stuart Board Index

2023 Snapshot


years is the average CEO tenure, down from 5.4 years in 2021 and 5.8 years in 2022

 74 %

of boards comprise only independent NEDs


CEOs were members of their board before being appointed as CEO

Board size

The average board size is 10.2, a figure that has remained almost unchanged for a decade.

43% (64) of boards comprise more than 10 members. The largest board is found at Berkeley Group Holdings, with 15 members.


The proportion of NEDs who are independent, excluding chairs, has remained relatively stable at 94% for the past decade (998 out of 1,058).

74% of boards in our sample are composed entirely of independent NEDs, representing 111 of the 150 total.

Executive chairs and vice chairs

There are four executive chairs (3%) in our sample: Nicholas Vetch at Big Yellow, William Jackson at Bridgepoint, Said Darwazah (chair and acting CEO at our cut-off date) at Hikma Pharmaceuticals, and David McMurtry at Renishaw. They are mostly founders or owners of the companies they chair.

There are three executive vice chairs in our sample who are also founders/owners: Will Adderley at Dunelm, Mazen Darwazah at Hikma Pharmaceuticals, and Jock Miller at Melrose.

Executives on the board

97% of CEOs and 90% of CFOs sit on the board.

17% (26) of companies also have other C-suite, regional or divisional CEOs as board directors. Berkeley, Ocado, and NEXT each have five executives on the board — the largest number in our sample.

Length of service

The average tenure of non-executive directors currently in post (including chairs) has been stable for more than a decade, at around 4.2 years.

4% (45/1,058) of non-executive directors and 11% of non-executive chairs (16/146) have exceeded the recommended term limit of nine years. Explanations include having gone through recent acquisitions or waiting to conclude the CEO succession process.

CEO average tenure is now 5.3 years, continuing a two-year decline from 5.8 years in 2021 to 5.4 years in 2022. However, the average tenure for current CEOs on the board is longer at 7.4 years. 59 CEOs were members of their board before being appointed as CEO, broken down as follows:

CEOs’ Previous experience on the board
Previous board role Number of CEOs
CEO designate 13
CFO 14
Executive director 24

CFO average tenure has continued to increase slightly, from 4.2 in 2021 to 4.5 in 2022 and 4.7 in 2023.

CFO average tenure is steady at 4.7 years, the same as in 2022, up slightly from the 4.2 years recorded in 2021.

Tenure on board per role
AverageAvg <1 year 1–3 years 4–6 years 7–9 years >9 years
Chairs 5.7 10% 21.3% 34% 21.3% 13.3%
Non-executive directors 4.1 16% 31% 30% 19% 4%
Women 3.6 16% 34% 32% 16% 2%
Minority ethnic directors 3.7 15% 50% 18% 11% 6%
Non-UK nationals 3.9 15% 37% 27% 16% 5%
CEOs (tenure in role) 5.3 14% 23% 31% 15% 17%
CFOs (tenure in role) 4.7 16% 38% 18% 16% 12%
Other executive directors on the board (tenure in role) 5.4 18% 21% 29% 8% 24%


The average age of non-executive directors has increased from 59.9 to 60.9 years. The average age of non-executive chairs has risen slightly from 65 to 65.1 years in 2023.

Female NEDs are slightly younger on average (59.3 years) than their male counterparts (62.5).

NEDs appointed over the past year (excluding chairs) are, on average, nearly two years younger (58.4) than those they are joining on the board (61.3).

CEOs are, on average, 56 years old; on average CFOs are three years younger (53.1). 3% of CEOs are under 45 (4).

Auto Trader has the youngest board, with an average of 51.5 years; 44% of its directors are under 50.

Age distribution by role